Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Summer Holidays

So the UK summer trip is finally here, we've been in Kent for just over a week and we're having a wonderful time! Mary got her Visa (after much drama) and is here with us too. Both she and Annabelle are a bit taken aback by the cooler weather but are slowly getting used to a British summer. Poor BabyBelle was crying every time we undressed her or changed her nappy for the first few days and had goosebumps all over.

So far there has been blue skies...

...and dinosaurs...

...and castles....

...and choir boys....

...and palaces...

...and cuddles...

...and coats for the first time....

...and learning how to do headers...

...and more cuddles...

...and new friends....

...and old friends....

...and Nintendo DS marathons...

...and Mary's Famous Chicken Curry for dinner in England...

....and finally, a swarm of bees who came down the chimney and took up residence in one of the bedrooms on Friday!

All that after only 9 days! Leigh will be arriving on Wednesday morning and staying until we leave on the 24th July, so we will all be in the UK together for the first time in 19 months! An exciting and busy couple of weeks ahead.

V xxx

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Visa forms at dawn

Have been absent from blogging again and promise I will make sure I update this week with some news from Singers and photos.

Only 12 more days now until we travel back to England for our four weeks holiday and we are all feeling VERY excited. Some sad news is that Mary's visa was rejected by the UK Government. We're having another go this week but not holding out much hope at the moment. I'll rant about the evils of immigration soon but for now am just open-mouthed with surprise and bafflement at the whole system. Feeling very much like I need to write to the Daily Mail and advise them just how flipping hard it is to get a Visa to come to the UK when you are from a poor third world Asian country, especially as I fear most of us English believe anyone can get one at the drop of a hat!!

Off to bed now, need to rest myself before the showdown at UK Immigration office tomorrow morning.....

V xx

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Oliver's Fifth Birthday

Oliver turned 5 this last week and it couldn't come a day too soon for him. He was so excited and has been counting the days until his birthday for about the last six months!

He had a birthday party at a nearby playgym with all of his classmates and some other school friends and neighbours. They had a fantastic time playing traditional party games such as pass the parcel, musical bumps and musical chairs as well as the more modern hour running around the playgym till their clothes were stuck to their skin with sweat.

Oliver was very lucky to get lots of lovely gifts from his friends and he is now in possession of some serious electrical gadgets and lego which hopefully will see him through for quite a while yet.

On his birthday he woke us all up at 6.30am so we could watch him open his presents, which he did with his usual gusto. He got a new bike for his birthday from us but it had to be exchanged that day as no sooner did we get it home than we realised it wasn't quite big enough. Oliver didn't seem to mind and managed to pick for himself the only BMX in the world with a large shopping basket attached. Leigh is mortified but Oliver can't see the problem as it is just the right size for Optimus Prime to travel up front with a good view!

I'm experimenting with new ways of loading my photos as the Blogger system takes soooo long I lose the will to live when doing these posts (one of the main reasons they are sporadic really!). So, I'm test driving "SmileBox" this time after realising that the Picasa one I used below for Aimee's Communion had used up all my "Free" memory on that site and they wanted up to $500US for a year - sod off!!!! So, I'm going with the Free sites and seeing how I get along. Tell me if it works/doesn't work/is annoying so I work out what is best.

Click to play Oliver's Fifth Birthday
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PS The music is currently one of Oliver's favourites and was his choice - Sorry!

V xxx

Monday, 19 May 2008

Aimee's First Holy Communion

Got a number of things to post about over the coming days, including Oliver's Fifth birthday, Leigh's parents visit and Aimee's First Holy Communion.

I'll start with the First Holy Communion as that is the only one I've finished organising the photographs for so far!

Aimee made her First Holy Communion on Saturday 17 May at St Ignatius Catholic Church in Singapore. It was a wonderful day with blue skies and glorious sunshine (which for those of you who've visited or lived here will know is not actually as frequent an occurrence as others may believe!).

Aimee has been going to class since last August in preparation for this big day and she has taken the whole thing very seriously. She looked absolutely beautiful in her dress and despite some nerves, handled the whole thing very well. There were 148children making their Communion on the day so it was a very busy afternoon at Church with lots of children, families and friends packing the church to standing room only. Crikey, I would have been nervous with all those people watching me.

I was so proud of her I nearly cried. I can't believe she is going to be 10 years old soon. Leigh and I gave her a small Cross to wear with her dress and to mark the occasion and whenever I saw her getting a bit too anxious, I noticed she would touch her necklace and smile. She is a sentimental little thing already - definitely a romantic in the making with our Aimee!

After the mass had finished we went to a nearby pub/restaurant with about 10 other families for drinks, dinner, cake and games for the kids. It was all very lovely and a great way to end a fantastic day.

There are lots of lovely pictures to share with you all so I'm trying out a new way of posting them by putting them into a slide show and adding that here. So this is my attempt, lets hope it works.....

PS If you click on the Slideshow you should jump to the webpage where the online Album is stored. Then you can have a clearer look at the photos and download some if you like (thinking of you Mum, Dad, Sarah & Natalie xx)

love V xx

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

One Night in Singapore

My old school friend Mary had a 24 hour stopover in Singapore during the Easter holidays with her boyfriend Richard (aka "The Brummie")and their son, Elliot whilst on their way to Australia to visit Brum's sister.

Their stopover coincided with Dad's visit, so there was a bit of bed reorganisation required, but everyone had somewhere to sleep for the night and Aimee especially enjoyed giving up her bed as it meant she got to sleep on the camp-bed in our room!

They arrived at 8am on Tuesday and were on the 9am plane the next day so we had lots to fit in during their short stay. No sooner did they step out of the taxi before the boys were doing some serious bonding (that's Oliver and Elliot - not Leigh and Brum as poor Leigh was off to work) over Lego, toy cars and all manner of boy stuff.

Mary and Richard had lots of lovely cuddles from Annabelle, who was on her best behaviour (as if there is anything else from the best-behaved-baby-ever!) and was cooing and smiling lots to their delight. Their second baby is due in the Autumn so it was great for them to see Elliot coping so well with them holding another baby and not having a mini-freak out!

We had a lovely chat over cups of tea and toast, then off to the British Club for some swimming and lunch. Back home for a while to let the travellers have a nap whilst me and kids shopped for a BBQ in the evening, then Ollie and I took them down to see Sir Stamford Raffles' statute before hoping on the BumBoat for the Singapore River tour. Unfortunately we had a tropical downpour whilst on the boat but it was only us so we had lots of space to keep dry and I think they enjoyed the drop in temperature and humidity that a storm brings.

Back home for pizza tea for the kids before Elliot crashed out in the bunkbeds much to Mary and Richard's relief. BBQ for the grownups before we all fell into bed early after a lovely long day of fun, food and catching up with old friends.

An early start the next day and I couldn't see them off in a taxi as I wanted to squeeze as much out of my time with them as possible. So Annabelle and I took an early trip to the airport for morning coffee and cake before waving goodbye to Mary, Richard and Elliot as they set off on the next stage of their big adventure holiday.

A few tears on the way home from me as Mary's visit made me homesick for my friends in England. Whilst I have made some wonderful friends here and enjoy a great life, its hard to match life-long friendships; no matter how infrequently you service them with a chat and a cup of tea those friendships really are extra special. Plus, it made me realise how soon Dad would be leaving and as you all know, when anyone leaves I become a bit of misery guts for a while.

Still, its only 8 weeks now till we return to UK and its looking good on the passport front for Annabelle. The British High Commission have PROMISED me that her Birth Certificate and Passport will be ready by 12 May. Mmmm, watch this space to see if they come good....

No post would be complete without photos, so here's a few from Mary & Co's One Night in Singapore....

Elliot's first go down the slide - this was the moment before he was freaked out and refused to go on again!

Elliot doing his inadvertent Liam Gallagher pose.

Boys on the BumBoat Tour

Mary and Super-Baby Annabelle

"You mean I've got to get on the plane AGAIN???"

Not too bad for 7am!!

V xxx

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

In the blink of an eye

8 years ago today. Crikey, time flies when you're having fun eh? Thank you Dad and Julie for hiding a card with the kids and Mary - it was a lovely surprise for us when we got up this morning. xx

Monday, 21 April 2008

Annabelle's First Visitors

The first batch of Grandparent visits are now sadly over, with mum visiting us for a couple of weeks in March and Dad, Julie and Natalie for a couple of weeks in April during the Easter School Holidays.

Was so lovely to be able to show Annabelle off to them and of course, to see everyone as its been our longest stretch so far without seeing family. Between 7 and 8 months!! Leigh's parents are coming out in three weeks time, but he at least has seen them a couple of times since their last visit when he's been in UK for work but the kids and I haven't seen them since last August.

As it was Mum's third trip, Dad and Julie's second tip and Natalie's fourth trip we didn't really manage too many new things but just enjoyed our time together really. I think it was probably a bit of headache for all of them putting up with me getting to grips with being a mother of 3 but not much you can do about that when you are all living together for a couple of weeks and there is a new baby in the house!

We took mum to Shangri La Brunch on Easter Sunday, which she enjoyed hugely. We were accompanied by our lovely neighbours Jo and Magnus, plus their 19 month old daughter Evie (on her first Brunch trip!) and Mags' mum and stepdad. Lots of food eaten and Champagne was drunk and we followed it all up with an Easter Egg hunt in the afternoon with tea and toasted hot cross buns.

Here are the kids frantically searching for eggs and showing off their spoils...

Plus, a pic of gorgeous little Evie

I also took mum to High Tea at the Rose Verandha at Shangri La. You may have guessed from my entries on this Blog, but food is a bit of big deal in Singapore. Its not for nothing that Singaporeans are known to enjoy eating and window shopping as their first two favourite pastimes! We took little Annabelle along with us too and you can she that she loved the "101 Teas of the Shangri-La" as much as mum and I did!

Mum was subjected to numerous school events again having arrived as we were coming to the end of Spring Term. I think she is praying she'll get out of the Spring Soiree next year. Whilst wonderful to watch your child singing to the audience of 200 parents, its a bit tedious when you have to sit through everyone else's kids too. Three hours later we saw Aimee's grand finale in the choir and then ran to the car as fast as we could.

Here's a few pics of Grandma and her newest Grand-daughter...

Dad, Julie and Natalie arrived in the evening of the first day of the holidays and due to a lost bag (Thanks Emirates!!) they were a little late in arriving, by which time the kids had built themselves into a manic frenzy! Lots of cuddles as soon as they were out of the taxi, but Nanny Julie had to wait a day or two until her cold cleared up before she allowed herself the first cuddle with BabyBelle.

We tried a different Brunch with Dad and Julie at the Fullerton Hotel (one of my favourites for dessert you may recall!). It was every bit as lovely as we expected and is another foody thing to add to the list of things to do when people are in town. Dad and Julie went to Sea Gypsy again for 5 days but we all stayed back in Singapore as wee Miss doesn't have a passport.

(Don't let me get started on that long and sorrowful story. I'm off to the British High Commission this week with every document ever produced for Leigh and I's existence this week and am hoping they'll issue her a UK birth certificate and passport finally. THEN, its back to Singapore Immigration for her Dependent's Permit - uuuurrrghhh!!!)

Anyways...Am racking my brain for more on what we did this holiday but its a fuzz. Mary, Richard and Elliott had an entertaining 24 hours in Singapore but I'll blog that later. We did go on the all new Singapore Flyer which is basically the London Eye in Asia BUT it is 30 meters higher than the UK one which all in all gives you a spectacular view of the shipping lanes and Casino construction site - mmm, not quite historic London but not bad. (Shame we had greyish skies that day...)

Oh, we went to the new Sentosa Lights and Water show. Costs 2 pounds each and so had been poo-pooed by me as probably being naff but was actually fantastic. I was blown away by how good it was and will definitely be going with more visitors in the future. Rest of the time was spent shopping, eating, trips to Botanical Gardens and British Club, before sadly was time was up for them to go back home. Here's some pics of Grandad, Nanny Julie and Auntie Natalie with the kids.....

So its the last day of school holidays today and we're off for haircuts and school uniform buying this morning. The kids are having a growth spurt and can't have another term in mini-dresses (Aimee) and hotpant style shorts (Ollie). I've had to leave it till the last day as they are growing so quickly I worried if I bought it a few weeks ago they grow another inch in between times!

Summer term is ten weeks long with no break, though we may steal the kids out of school and have a few days away if we ever get a passport for Annabelle. Otherwise, its one long push through to 27th June when they finish for eight weeks summer holidays. We are on the plane back to UK the next day, Saturday 28th June arriving late that night. We'll be visiting for four weeks again, leaving on 24th July. We are staying in one place for the whole visit as we've rented a house in Hollingbourne (near Leeds Castle - about 15 miles from Hempstead Valley). Click on THIS to jump to the cottage's website if you want a nose and for address etc (though I will email details nearer the time).

Finally, a quick THANK YOU to everyone who has sent presents and cards for Annabelle. We have really appreciated all the effort you've gone to posting things to us on the other side of the world. All those trips to the post office made us feel like you hadn't forgotten us. As usual, I've written all my thank you cards but the school holidays got in the way of my putting all the addresses on so they'll be posted in the week. In the meantime, here's one last pic of our very own, Singapore Girl...

Bye for now
V xxxxxxxxxxxx